This past year has been a time of tremendous and constant transition. Now many of us are adjusting to the new normal of schedules, sporting events and activities, as well as planning for summer. Everyone seems to be in some stage of transition. Some are embracing a return to busy, while others are resisting this change. Even if a transition is anticipated, it’s normal to have conflicting feelings around it. It’s normal to feel anxiety, frustration, and other big emotions, especially for kids who struggle when reintegrating into social situations.
What are some techniques that we can employ to help our families navigate these transitions with greater ease?
1. Realize that you’re not alone
Everyone is experiencing big transitions right now. We are all feeling the same way. Some are even mourning the end of this quieter time. You can help your child realize that their feelings, whatever they are, are perfectly normal.
2. Take a breath
It is scientifically proven that a slow inhale through the nose sends a signal to the brain that you are safe and not in any danger. This is a great tool to use because you can use it all the time and no one has to be the wiser. You also pack it with you wherever you go, and you are never without it!
3. Help your child exercise the “Make New Friends muscle”
As we ramp up our kids’ social schedules, they will have to break out the “Make New Friends muscle”. It gets stronger the more you use it! Best of all, most of us have used it before. As parents, we can remind our kids that they have been successful at this in the past, and they can do it again in the future.
4. Practice new social skills in small increments
Try to help your child face what they’re afraid of. Roleplay with them, if necessary. Talk about social situations so they can anticipate what will happen. Or go somewhere new, like a library, park, or coffee shop, and practice saying hello to new people. If your child is feeling self-conscious or shy, the best way to deflect the attention onto somebody else is to ask a question. This allows someone else to talk while you acclimate to the new environment.
5. Boost your child’s confidence
Remind your child that they’ve gotten through this time and adjusted to constant transitions. Remind them of a strength they have or another thing they’re good at. Chances are, many of those things took a little practice, too.
The Center for Children and Youth can help you navigate life’s transitions and challenges. Learn more about parent consultations or call 1-888-927-0839 to meet with Child and Family Therapist Jackie Sage, LMFT, or another member of our professional staff.